25 August 2021
Having worked informally together for many years, the three charities officially joined forces in February to make sure young cancer patients get the support they need during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. The pandemic has amplified the loneliness, isolation, and anxiety these young people have experienced to unimaginable levels.
After COVID kept the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust off the water in 2020, the charity has returned to running regional ‘Taste of the Trust’ days - for 8-17 and 18–24-year-olds - at 10 coastal and inland venues across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Welsh borders, bringing young people together and supporting them in person again. And many of the young people, who have experienced the mental wellbeing benefits of getting outdoors this summer, were introduced to the Trust through Teenage Cancer Trust and/or Young Lives vs Cancer, having been supported by the partners whilst on treatment.
A number of Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Lives vs Cancer team members have also joined the young people from their hospitals and units and been getting hands-on as ‘Taste of the Trust’ volunteers.
One of these is Julie Gonzalez, Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
Julie explained why the ‘next steps’ support the Trust provides has been more important than ever this year for young people like Isobel (right), who Julie supported whilst on treatment.
She said: “Going through cancer treatment over the past 18 months has been so isolating, even more so than usual. Young people absolutely need this to come out of isolation. Anxiety levels in young people are absolutely huge at the moment too.
"We saw quite a demand for the trips, not just from the parents, but from the young people wanting to do it too. This is some sort of sense of normality for them, being able to push themselves a little bit and to get back out there. It's the small steps and I'm so glad the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust are doing it.”
By joining forces, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Lives vs Cancer will increase their individual impact, reduce duplication, and have a shared voice on issues that matter most to children and young people living with, and beyond cancer.
The partnership is allowing the three charities to identify barriers to care and seek out joint solutions. It is helping to ensure children and young people diagnosed with cancer get timely access to the right skilled support at key stages of their cancer journeys, from diagnosis to living beyond cancer.
Young Lives vs Cancer’s Young People’s Community Worker, Laura Rohdich, joined young people from across Northern Ireland for the first Trust sailing trips of the summer in Bangor. She added: “We've tried our best to support everybody as best we can through one-to-one work on the phone or video clls, and groupwork via Zoom.
"However, nothing replaces face-to-face support, and this was my first opportunity with a group of young people in over 18 months. I'm pretty sure I had a big cheesy grin on my face the whole time. I was buzzing!
“The group threw themselves 100% into every task and activity without a hint of hesitation. I felt like everyone was very grateful for the opportunity to be with people outside of their bubble and doing something that wasn't a Zoom quiz or a walk or a chat in the garden. It was lovely to watch friendships blooming and make plans for all the things we can do next.”
In September, the three CEOs – Frank Fletcher (Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust), Kate Collins (Teenage Cancer Trust), and Rachel Kirby-Rider (Young Lives vs Cancer) – will present on ‘How the pandemic paved the way to partnership – putting the cause before the brand’ at the Teenage and Young Adults with Cancer (TYAC) Conference 2021.
Some 340 young people are taking part in sailing and outdoor adventures across the UK this summer, either for the first time or having previously sailed with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Almost 2,700 young people, including many hundreds who have been supported by Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Lives vs Cancer too, have sailed with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust since its launch by the history-making yachtswoman in 2003.